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Photo Credit: TRIBUNE PHOTO JONATHAN HOUSE - The City Council will again consider the future of the Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Wedneday.The future of the Memorial Coliseum could be up in the air again when the City Council considers whether to increase funding for a study of its options on Wednesday.


The city has already initiated a VMC Options Study of the aging spectator facility, which is officially called the Veterans Memorial Coliseum. One Wednesday the council will be asked to spend $125,165 to contract with Nelson Capitol Construction Program Management of Portland to provide cost estimates of the various options being studied.

According to the request submitted by Mayor Charlie Hales, options apparently include closing and demolishing the Coliseum, even though the council had previously agreed to keep it open after historic preservationists argued it was an important example of mid-century architecture.

"I'm disappointed to see the demolition option, but I believe most members of the council want to preserve it," says Portland architect Brian Libby, who was part of the campaign that placed the Coliseum on the National Register of Historic Places five years ago.

The successful campaign was in reaction to a plan to tear down the Coliseum and build a new baseball stadium on the site, which the council abandoned.

The council could not agree on a specific plan for the future of the Coliseum two years ago, however. Former Mayor Sam Adams asked the council to keep the Coliseum as a spectator facility but upgrade its kitchens, restrooms, and electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems. The council did not approve the request because the approximately $30 million cost estimate seemed shaky and the source of all the funds was unclear.

"I agree Mayor Adams' plan needed some work. It didn't include everything the Coliseum needs, like a modern loading dock to make it easier for traveling show to load and unload equipment," says Libby.

Late last year, Hales talked about raising private funds to renovate the Coliseum in time to help accomodate the 2016 World Indoor Track & Field Championships. It is set to be held that year from March 18 through 20 at the nearby Oregon Convention Center. No pledges were apparently forthcoming, however.

The Coliseum is currently home to the Portland Winter Hawks hockey team and hosts numerous events every year. It sits next to the larger Moda Center — formerly called the Rose Garden — in the Rose Quarter. According to the request, the community vision of the Rose Quarter calls for it to be redeveloped as "a pedestrian-oriented, mixed-use district that is well integrated and connected with the surrounding neighborhood and adjacent Lloyd District." It is also expected to create jobs.

Already working on the VMC Option Study are Boora Architects and Convention Sports & Leisure International. They contracts did have to be approved by the council because they are each below the $100,000 threshold that requires a pubic vote.

To read the request, go to www.portlandonline.com/auditor/index.cfm?c=50265&a=504358.

Libby belongs to Friends of the Coliseum, a group that supports preserving the facility at www.coliseumfriends.org.

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